100 incredible films

100 incredible films

'The Dark Knight' (Warner Bros.) / 'La La Land' (Summit Entertainment) / 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (Universal Pictures)

Apropo of nothing: here are my favorite 100 films of all time (even though there's 101 movies on this list).

There's no John Hughes on this list. No Tim Burton. No Adam Sandler.

These are not the 100 best films of all time -- but these are the movies I always find my way back to. They are the enduring movies that I have watched multiple times -- some of them dozens upon dozens of times.

As a self-professed movie nerd, if I could only watch 100 movies -- these would be the 100 I would pick.

Here are the top 15 movies, starting with a classic Humphrey Bogart noir ...

"The Maltese Falcon"

#15: 'The Maltese Falcon'

This is the definitive noir mystery.

Whenever anyone thinks of a cynical detective on a case involving shifty enemies and a cunning femme fatale, they can thank Humphrey Bogart and this classic mystery.

'The Maltese Falcon' has defined the noir mystery for more than seven decades -- a testament to its enduring, timeless elements of intrigue and suspense.

 The Maltese Falcon
(1941) on IMDb

Amy Adams in "Enchanted."

#14: 'Enchanted'

Unapologetically sweet and lovely, 'Enchanted' is as much as strong live-action take on fairy tales as it is a tribute to all the animated takes on princesses, heroes and evil witches.

'Enchanted' is wonderfully executed in every possible way - from its brilliant casting of Adam Adams as a Disney princess to its bold attempt to bring a fairy tale to live in a cynical, modern Manhattan.

This film is a genuine love story and sincere tip-of-the-hat to all the princesses, animal sidekicks and evil stepmothers that preceded 'Enchanted.'

(2007) on IMDb

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in "La La Land."

#13: 'La La Land'

This is not just some silly, easily-dismissed musical. it's a drama first, romance second & a musical third. The end result is a moving, dazzling and dazzling wonder of pure cinematic joy.

 La La Land
(2016) on IMDb

Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." (Warner Bros. Pictures)

#12: 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'

What 'Maltese Falcon' took great care in constructing -- the mystery genre -- 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' takes equal care in completely deconstructing.

This murder mystery is also incredibly and brilliantly written - a script that takes shots at the private detective genre, while also embracing its sharp, witty dialogue.

 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
(2005) on IMDb

'Baraka' / 'Samsara' Oscilloscope Laboratories

#11: 'Baraka' / 'Samsara'

While these are two different films, they share the exact same DNA. 'Baraka' and 'Samsara' are not conventional stories -- they are non-narrative masterpieces that simply point a camera lens at the incredible diversity of life.

This is not a movie - this is a cinematic experience.

(1992) on IMDb

'Mulholland Drive' Universal Pictures

#10: 'Mulholland Drive'

This David Lynch mystery is an all-consuming experience that absolutely demands - and requires - multiple viewings.

'Mulholland Drive' is a mystery that can be solved -- but it doesn't simply spell out the mystery or how to solve it. A viewer can crack this spell-binding film - if one has patience and a keen attention to detail and human nuance.

 Mulholland Drive
(2001) on IMDb

'The Seventh Seal' (AB Svensk Filmindustri)

#9: 'The Seventh Seal'

Behold, one of the most beautifully shot films of all time.

But beyond the aesthetic, 'Seventh Seal' is closer to a timeless piece of literature than simply a great film.

This masterpiece pits normal people the most truly elemental antagonist of all-time: death.

 The Seventh Seal
(1957) on IMDb

'Dr. Strangelove' (Columbia Pictures)

#8: 'Dr. Strangelove'

The true power of comedy is not simply to illicit a chuckle or two -- comedy is the best weapon to analyze the darkness of humanity.

And it doesn't get much darker than the Cold War - and film doesn't get much funnier, sharper than 'Dr. Strangelove.'

 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
(1964) on IMDb

'Groundhog Day' (Columbia Pictures)

#7: 'Groundhog Day'

Proof that an absolutely simple premise can arise toward cinematic greatness with near flawless execution.

'Groundhog Day' is arguably the most perfect comedy every made for the big screen.

 Groundhog Day
(1993) on IMDb

'Grave of the Fireflies' (Studio Ghibli)

#6: 'Grave of the Fireflies'

This animated classic from Japan is one of the great war films ever -- and none of the main characters pick up a weapon.

While many war films tell heavy-handed tales of soldiers and how 'war is hell,' this heart-wrenching story focuses on a pair of young siblings -- and how World War II affects turns their world upside down.

 Grave of the Fireflies
(1988) on IMDb

'Before Sunset' (Warner Independent Pictures)

#5: 'Before Sunset'

One of the best film trilogies of all time does not have a single superhero or the anyone named 'Corleone' ... it's simply two characters truly, intimately communicating.

So many films are about miscommunicating or misunderstanding -- but Celine and Jesse honestly and genuinely interact and push eachother in the 'Before' series.

But what makes 'Sunset' remarkable is its realistic, grounded take of two star-crossed lovers who may have romanticized a night in Vienna ten years prior.

 Before Sunset
(2004) on IMDb

'To Kill a Mockingbird' (Universal Pictures)

#4: 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

While many book-to-film adaptations fail, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' may be the single greatest novel adaptation in cinematic history.

Racism. Growing up. Empathy. Justice. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is a masterpiece that deftly handles many themes, weaving them together to tell a classic story.

 To Kill a Mockingbird
(1962) on IMDb

'The Shawshank Redemption' (Warner Bros. Pictures)

#3: 'The Shawshank Redemption'

There may not be a greater, more uplifting single scene than Andy Dufresne standing in the rain.

 The Shawshank Redemption
(1994) on IMDb

'The Dark Knight' (Warner Bros. Pictures)

#2: 'The Dark Knight'

I saw this film 10 times in theaters -- and several times in real, legit IMAX.

'The Dark Knight' is a gritty, murky film about crime, justice and ethics that happens to feature costumed characters.

And these comic book characters push each other to their very limits - threatening to literally destroy Gotham City and, perhaps worse, destroy the spirit/hope of Gotham City.

Films are stories pushed forward by conflict. Using that criteria, 'The Dark Knight' is the one of the great films ever.

 The Dark Knight
(2008) on IMDb

Casablanca' (Warner Bros. Pictures)

My favorite film of all-time: "Casablanca"

This Bogart-Bergman classic is my palette cleanser. It has permanent residency on my iPhone - a digital copy that I watch at least once a month. Even when I intend to only watch a scene or two, I find myself watching 'Casablanca' from its first frame to the final credits.

It features arguably the strongest script of all of film. Rick Blaine is one of film's iconic, conflicted and reluctant heroes. His journey is as much one of personal preservation as it as a rejection of crippling heartbreak and a call to duty he hears, but resists.

"Casablanca" is the film I always go back to as a reminder of the brilliance that movies can achieve.

(1942) on IMDb

And here are the other 85 movies - in alphabetical order and completely unranked :)

'(500) Days of Summer' --
'21 Jump Street' -- 
'About Schmidt' -- 
'The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai' -- He's a brain surgeon-rock star-adventurer!
'Airplane!' -- 
'Aliens' -- 
'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy' --
'The Aristocrats' -- 
'The Avengers' -- The boldest comic book film ever attempted.
'Back to the Future' -- 
'Before Midnight' --
'Bicycle Thieves' -- Simple premise with a devastating, desperate humanity. 
'The Big Lebowski' --
'Black Dynamite' --
'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' --
'Cheap Thrills' -- A combination of devilish fun and unnerving darkness.
'Children of Men' -- Perhaps one of the greatest dystopian films ever.
'City of God' --
'Contact' -- 
'Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door' --
'Defending Your Life' --
'The Departed' --
'Die Hard' -- The greatest action film ever!
'District 9' --
'Dodgeball' --
'Donnie Darko' -- It demands a 2nd viewing almost immediately.
'Drive' -- 
'The End of Evangelion' --
'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' --
'Fargo' -- The funniest movie that doesn't have a single punchline.
'Fight Club' --
'Ghost World' --
'Ghostbusters' --
'The Godfather: Part II' --
'Good Night, and Good Luck' --
'Goodfellas' --
'The Goonies' -- 'Hey you guys!!'
'The Grey' --
'Grosse Pointe Blank' --
'Happiness' -- Not for the faint of heart - the darkest film on this list.
'Heat' --
'The Hurt Locker' --
'In the Loop' --
'Inception' --
'Jackass 2' --
'Jurassic Park' --
'The Last Five Years' --
'The Last of the Mohicans' -- Best combo of sweeping epic and bad-ass hunters.
'Lost in Translation' --
'Magnolia' -- 
'Match Point' -- Woody Allen's best film.
'Melancholia' --
'Memento' --
'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' --
'Moulin Rouge!' --
'My Fair Lady' -- My favorite classic musical.
'Notorious' --
'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' --
'Pulp Fiction' --
'Raiders of the Lost Ark' --
'Rashomon' --
'Romeo + Juliet' --
'Rushmore' --
'Schindler's List' --
'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World' --
'Se7en' --
'Seeking a Friend for the End of the World' --
'Serenity' --
'The Silence of the Lambs' --
'Silver Linings Playbook' --
'The Sixth Sense' --
'Sleepless in Seattle' --
'Star Trek' -- Arguably the best franchise reboot of all time.
'Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith' --
'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back' --
'The Straight Story' -- Glacially slow, but incredibly rich storytelling.
'The Terminal' --
'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' --
'Toy Story 3' --
'Trainspotting' --
'Tropic Thunder' --
'True Romance' -- One of the best romantic films ever.
'United 93' -- Unrelentingly thrilling - even though the end is known.
'Waking Life' --
'Wall-E' -- The first half is a beautiful, silent film marvel.

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